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During my time studying abroad in Suzhou China, I worked on a project that comprised one part, done in a group, and the other part done individually. I grouped with 3 other Industrial designers to brainstorm ideas that we could pursue. This project was a very interesting experience for me because it was the first time that I had to conduct research with individual that may not speak English.

Roles & Duration

Lead Designer | Group Project

Mobile Application, User Research, UX/UI Design, 3D Product Design, CAD Modelling

April 2019 - May 2019

The Objective

The premise of this project was to choose a topic or an issue that we would like to design for and then combine it with a social, cultural or economical trend that is known in China. Doing this project was a good opportunity for me to learn as much as I can about China from my peers and also from other locals. With one of the group exercises that I will mention next, my group and I decided on taking on the topic of travel for our individual designs.

1. Discovery


Group Brainstorming: C-Sketching

This exercise was a way of helping my group and me to generate ideas of products in a mass quantity. Each group member ideated different products or features of our chosen individual topic while also given that constraint that the idea also needs to have a connection to the Chinese culture. We were given a short amount of time to draw out ideas and then we switch our papers with a person in our group where they would ideate or suggest different ideas to your topic. When everyone in our group has contributed an idea or suggestion to each person's paper, we would then decide on whose ideations bring the best combination of an interesting topic and idea while making a connection with a distinct Chinese cultural issue or feature.

2. Define

Synthesis & Insights

Target Demographic

My group and I began surveying and interview individuals around us regarding their experience with traveling in China. We found that with China’s travel and booking system for transport is so convenience, many individuals around the age range of 18-30 very travel a lot and take the bullet train often.

WeChat App

Many of the worldwide popular social media resources are censored use in mainland China. With no Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook, there are alternative apps that Chinese residence and visitors use. WeChat is one of the popular communication and social media apps that many people use in China. But not only is it a communication platform, but it has other resources and features that came make doing various daily tasks like shopping, doing payment transactions, booking hotels, and travel much easier.

Accessible Traveling

One of the popular features that I used quite often on WeChat during my 6 months in Suzhou, China was the train booking resource. Asides from an airplane, the bullet train was the fastest mode of transportation to travel from city to city. The bullet train had so many routes that you can take to different cities in China. Buying a ticket was made very convenient with a feature provided on WeChat.

Travel Frustration

In an area of Suzhou where there are a lot of post-secondary students, they tend to struggle with the frustrations that come from taking multiple forms of transportation while carrying their luggage. Moving from one station to another and moving through densely populated areas, the security of an individual's luggage can be put to risk. There has been cases where students misplace their belongings or were a victim of theft. This diagram displays the possible emotional state of a student as they are traveling in China while carrying their luggage.

3. Develop


Individual Ideations

During my individual ideation session, my intent with the ideas that I was coming up with ways to be able to have a digital component to my solution that was also accompanied by a physical product component. As I was wireframing how an app would enhance the security of a traveler's luggage, I felt that it was important to really analyze the use of a luggage bag to the user and that introduced the physical component of bettering the design of luggage locks.

Product Mapping

This product has both a physical product and a digital product component. The goal of this map was to lay out all of the components, design criteria, and constraints that I would need to consider as I am designing this product.

Digital Mock-ups

The initial iteration was to help me map out what exactly was going to me on this app. Since I was more focused on digital interaction with the user, I did not think too much of the graphics and aesthetics of the app itself. There were many things that I really needed to consider: For example, what would set up be like to connect the app with the zipper lock, and also what would the interaction be to get to the different features of the app.


The app would be an add on to a 3rd party resource on WeChat. WeChat is the dominant social media and communication app for many residence of mainland China.

4. Proposal


Digital And Physical Elements

SmartZIP introduces a more secure experience when it comes luggage safety. You have the element of a magnetic zipper lock and an app that would activate it.

Digitally connected zipper that secures your luggage using a magnetic clamp lock.

Touch the back screen to turn on the SmartZIP lock.

Tap the power button to turn it on in order to connect onto the phone.

Navigating through having multiple SmartZIP's connected.

5. Reflection


What I Would Do Next Time

If I were to do this project differently, I would have....

​• Done more user testing for the app and the physical zipper component
• Tested a 3D printed prototype of the zipper mechanism with a piece of luggage
• Consider more of the current UI trends for the SmartZIP app
• Took in consideration of how much this would cost to be manufactured and sold to customers